Starring Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson and Ruairi O’Connor The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It follows the Warrens in one of their most intense adventures. During an exorcism gone wrong, the Warrens let loose a supernatural force onto an unsuspecting young man. What follows from there is something quite disturbing at times and unfortunately somewhat predictable.
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It is a film with that signature style that has been prevalent since this cinematic universe began. There are the slow burn scares, there are moments that involve the magician’s trick. You look left but really you should have been looking right. Then there are the horror set-pieces. My particular highlight in the film involves a water bed. You’ll never look at a water bed the same way after watching this. Unfortunately having seen previous films in the Conjuring universe nothing felt particularly surprising. It’s a sense of the films getting into a comfortable rhythm and it’s a shame.
Thankfully what works for the film is its cast. I found that after so many films together Farmiga and Wilson feel like a genuine married couple and I’m their family travelling the world solving supernatural mysteries. Watching them in this situation is fascinating. The film is set in the 80s, a new era for the Warrens. Not only that the Warrens find themselves in unfamiliar territory.
The reason for this is Arne (0’Connor), a young man involved with their botched exorcism, has been seemingly possessed by a demon and has murdered someone. There is more to this though and the Warrens have to now get involved with the police and uncover actual evidence to try and keep Arne out of prison. This is something they’ve never had to contend with before.
Something scary, something familiar
What makes these scares that are a little too familiar at times, are the characters. Arne in particular is an interesting character. His progression throughout the film tells a story. The sweat on his brow shows his descent. He’s a ticking time bomb. The tragedy of the reality mixed with the horror of the surreal is unnerving.
The cinematography is decent, there are several scenes that involve Arne freaking out and the visual journeys he goes on are otherwordly. Couple that with surprisingly vibrant and colourful locations and the film looks great.
What director Michael Chaves sadly doesn’t work well with is the stunts. There is a point in the film where a child is getting thrown around and you know it’s not a child, it’s a female stunt double. With better camera work I may not have noticed this so often. It took me out of what should be an incredibly stressful moment in the film. I will say though this is a singular moment, the rest of the film had a brilliant combination of visual and practical effects to showcase the horror of the monsters inside the film.
Michael Chaves had a lot of work to do with The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It. He came from directing The Curse of La Llorona a film I personally liked but was not well received. So to be promoted to the tentpole film came with a lot of challenges.
I think however that he pulled it off. Most of it has to do with Farmiga and Wilson. Their chemistry is still heartwarming and pure and is exactly what you expect from a married couple that has been together so long. Their relationship along with Arne’s plight (that is portrayed so well by Ruarí O’Connor) is what elevates this film above its weaker and predictable elements.
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